Manuel plans Magpie murder in Manchester

If somebody said Manchester City had every chance of topping the Premier League – at least seven points clear of Chelsea – going into the second international break of the season, who in sky blue, wouldn’t have taken it?

Oh what a night - City were glad to be back to winning ways in Moenchengladbach.

Oh what a night – City were glad to be back to winning ways in Moenchengladbach.

By the same token, how many City fans would have turned down the prospect of a historic Champions League win on German soil and being well poised in a very challenging Group D?

And yet, with less than a quarter of the domestic league programme played and only a third of the Group D schedule completed, many ‘pundits’ would have us believe that City have swung from perfection to crisis and back to somewhere in between.

At a time when City were smashing club records like crockery at a pre-recession Greek wedding, there was foolish and hugely premature talk of Manuel Pellegrini’s side having the title wrapped up by Christmas.

'Harty' applause - Joe acknowledges the City fans on a great night in Germany.

‘Harty’ applause – Joe acknowledges the City fans on a great night in Germany. Courtesy@MCFC

A 100% record was never going to last and, sure enough perfect turned to defects, as West Ham somehow survived a ferocious and unrelenting second half barrage to steal a win at the Etihad.

The shock defeat came at a cost as City’s already unhealthy looking injury list lengthened with the loss of centre back stalwarts Kompany and Mangala, neither of whom has since played.

Crestfallen - Stand-in skipper Yaya and City were brought to their knees by a resolute West Ham rearguard action. Courtesy@MCFC

Crestfallen – Stand-in skipper Yaya and City were brought to their knees by a resolute West Ham rearguard action. Courtesy@MCFC

Blaming injuries – especially when you’re a club as rich in football talent as City – may sound lilly-livered, but with the season less than two months old, the Etihad medical suite has seen plenty of action.

Pablo Zabaleta made his first fleeting appearance of the season as a late late sub, in the heart-stopping 2-1 win at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Wednesday night. That’s more than Gael Clichy has managed since pre-season.

Kelechi catch-up - Iheanacho will want to make up for missing out on more first team opportunities due to injury. Courtsey@MCFC

Kelechi catch-up – Iheanacho will want to make up for missing out on more first team opportunities due to injury. Courtsey@MCFC

Fabian Delph has mustered two sub showings before crashing out with a troublesome hamstring, 30 seconds into England international duty last month.

Wilfried Bony picks up injuries at the same rate Mario Balotelli collected parking tickets during his stay in Manchester, while the young pretender to a City striking berth, Kelechi Iheanacho has also fallen foul to physical frailty.

Sterling performance - Raheem has shown glimpses of why City paid £44m for him but he needs to up his game. Courtesy@MCFC

Sterling performance – Raheem has shown glimpses of why City paid £44m for him but he needs to up his game. Courtesy@MCFC

David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Yaya Toure have all missed valuable game time, and arguably returned to first team action far from fully fit.

Samir Nasri has been in and out of action due to niggling and recurring injuries and Fernando, after proclaiming he was finally free of a pain during the summer, promptly picked up a new war wound in pre-season.

Willy Wonka - sadly Caballero has failed to live up to expectations as Hart's understudy, let alone challenger to the No 1 slot at City.

Willy Wonka – sadly Caballero has failed to live up to expectations as Hart’s understudy, let alone challenger to the No 1 slot at City.

Even the normally resolute Joe Hart succumbed to injury before the trip to Tottenham, and what a miss he turned out to be, with Willy Caballero sadly performing like a derivation of his forename.

No, never mind the millions upon millions of investment, Pellegrini has a case if he wanted to put the catalogue of casualties forward as mitigation for City’s temporary slip from grace.

But the Carry On Casualty capers has helped facilitate first team debuts for some City youngsters, noticeably Iheanacho, Patrick Roberts and most warmingly, George Evans.

By George and Good Evans - the City youngster's dream came true when he made his senior debut at Sunderland. Courtesy@MCFC

By George and Good Evans – the City youngster’s dream came true when he made his senior debut at Sunderland. Courtesy@MCFC

Evans’ Capital Cup debut in the 4-1 victory at Sunderland, marked him out as one of only two players to have represented City at every level, from the Under 8s to the senior side.

Pablo Maffeo and Brandon Barker have made it to the senior matchday squads and the youngsters are ready and willing to start fulfilling their potential.

Strike One - Kevin de Bruyne scores his opening goal for City but ended up on the losing side against West Ham. Courtesy@MCFC

Strike One – Kevin de Bruyne scores his opening goal for City but ended up on the losing side against West Ham. Courtesy@MCFC

The addition of a brilliant Kevin de Bruyne has been a lone shining beacon as City have stumbled in recent league games.

Bungling officials have also cost City dear in what has been a topsy-turvy two weeks.

Three goals in three starts -Flame haired KdB was on fire for City, but his team mates weren't in defeats to West Ham & Spurs.

Three goals in three starts -Flame haired KdB was on fire for City, but his team mates weren’t in defeats to West Ham & Spurs.

As bad as City’s second half capitulation was at White Hart Lane, referee Mark Clattenburg and his apology of an assistant, allowed Spurs two blatant – not marginal – offside goals, which undoubtedly dictated the momentum and course of the game.

Even in Champions League glory, when recording the first ever win by an English team at Moenchengladbach, City had to contend with a ‘goal line assistant’ who clearly ‘shudda gone to Specsavers’ but couldn’t find his way.

Offside - Kane was able to take advantage of some poor refereeing from Mark Clattenburg and his assistants.

Offside – Kane was able to take advantage of some poor refereeing from Mark Clattenburg and his assistants.

Standing five yards parallel to the goal, the official contrived not to see Martin Demichelis’ 65th minute equaliser cross the line. It was only when Nicolas Otamendi immediately rifled home the clearance that ‘Glow In the Dark’ City illuminated the scoreboard.

True to form and rotten to the core, UEFA subsequently swung into face-saving and arse-covering mode.

#Together - City pulled through a tough time in Germany to emerge with maximum points. Courtesy@MCFC

#Together – City pulled through a tough time in Germany to emerge with maximum points. Courtesy@MCFC

European football’s governing body retrospectively awarded the goal to Demichelis, claiming the visually impaired 5th official had told referee, Clement ‘Dick’ Turpin, the ball had crossed the line at the time.

One look at the playback tells you there was no signal whatsoever from the official and, had Otamendi not buried his version of the equaliser, City would have remained 1-0 down.

7 Up - Sterling sees City gold as Joe thwarts the Borussia penalty that should never have been awarded.

7 Up – Sterling sees City gold as Joe thwarts the Borussia penalty that should never have been awarded.

What should we expect from an organisation whose President, Michel Platini, conducts consultancy work on behalf of FIFA and the now not so Teflon Sepp Blatter, and then has the patience of a saint to wait nine years for his £1.3m invoice to clear?

Neither of Borussia’s penalty claims were justified – despite the best endeavours of BT Sports’ impartial pundit Robbie Savage and protestations of ex-City midfielder, all-round waste of space and expert finger pointer, Steve McManaman.

Hart stopper - Joe's brilliant penalty save in Moenchengladbach.

Hart stopper – Joe’s brilliant penalty save in Moenchengladbach.

What wasn’t in question was another world class Champions League display from Joe Hart – including a magnificent penalty save – and an ice cool 90th minute spot kick execution from Sergio Aguero.

Hart was sorely missed in the crushing 4-1 reverse at Spurs, whereas Aguero was as anonymous as any City player in a wretched second half offering in North London.

Sorely missed - Joe's injury enforced absence at Spurs was a big factor in City's defeat. Courtesy@MCFC

Sorely missed – Joe’s injury enforced absence at Spurs was a big factor in City’s defeat. Courtesy@MCFC

‘Out-of-form’ and ‘Sergio Aguero’ is a rare juxtaposition, but even the best of the best have dips in form.

Sergio is suffering at the moment with just one goal scored in open play all season, but it’s only a matter of time before he sets out on a spree to try and retain his Golden Boot status.

That winning feeling - Sergio celebrates slotting home City's 90th minute penalty in Germany. Courtesy@MCFC

That winning feeling – Sergio celebrates slotting home City’s 90th minute penalty in Germany. Courtesy@MCFC

City now embark on an October that barely sees them step outside of Manchester, with five home games and a trip to The Swamp in Trafford.

Complacency and recent history needs to be a million miles away from City’s thought processes as Steve McClaren’s Newcastle United come to the Etihad.

Despite a record of 15 wins and 2 draws in their last 17 league encounters, City could come undone – as they did against West Ham – if they allow the visitors time and space.

Argentina Two Step - Sergio and Martin will want to continue where they left off throughout a home run in October.

Argentina Two Step – Sergio and Martin will want to continue where they left off throughout a home run in October.

A work ethic, high tempo and pressing play so evident in the unbeaten run, was absent in the first 45 minutes against the Hammers and the second 45 minutes against Spurs.

There can be no excuse for a lack of effort and application by those in Sky Blue.

Six points squandered must not become nine. Now is the time to secure the buffer zone between a floundering Chelsea and edge ahead of unlikely title challengers Manure.

Good Kompany - City need to get back to the clean sheets enjoyed when Vinnie was marshalling the defence. Courtesy@MCFC

Good Kompany – City need to get back to the clean sheets enjoyed when Vinnie was marshalling the defence. Courtesy@MCFC

The international breaks, loathed by so many fans of the Premier League, could be a blessing as City’s injured and walking wounded gain a fortnight respite.

It will only rest well if City get back to winning ways and murder some Magpies.

#TrustOurMP

By David Walker

Dedicated to a devoted Lady Blue, Angie Hillwood, who is grieving the loss of Max – a much loved and very special friend – stay strong and keep the dream in your heart x

www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

 

14 Comments

  1. October 3, 2015  6:13 am by Simon Wilson Reply

    Spot on once again David. Let's hope the CL triumph is a springboard to another healthy run. For once the international break is much welcomed. Although two weeks without MCFC .... I suppose a bit of international rugby will be OK.

    • October 3, 2015  6:25 am by David Walker Reply

      Let's hope City crack on today poach a few goals, scramble Steve McClaren's senses and send the Toon Army's soldiers wishing they hadn't bothered to dip into the Etihad...and then we can turn our attentions to the egg-chasing World Cup. As for enjoying the rugby, it depends on the colour of your shirt! If England get their whites right hopefully the yolk with be on the Aussie's yellow apparel. It looks like green is good to go for the Emerald Isle, red spells danger for Wales' opponents but if black is back then will it finally be the Kiwi's trophy in a Northern hemisphere tournament? All I really want is the Barcodes scanned and Manuel's boys sitting aloft the Premier League on Sunday evening.

  2. October 3, 2015  8:03 am by Alison Reply

    Just love reading your articles David made me smile again after a difficult week not only with the games and injuries, but against the officials and any other pundit,who only seem to manage a compliment for any outstanding performance aka Joe Hart through gritted teeth. I hate the international breaks but as you say this could be a blessing in disguise to get our walking wounded back on track. Let's go and bag those three points today

    • October 3, 2015  8:47 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks for your encouraging feedback. The only way of answering all the snide comments is putting the ball in the opponent's net and points on the board. Success is the best form of revenge.

  3. October 3, 2015  8:46 am by Pete lynch Reply

    Great read! Back to winning ways today

  4. October 3, 2015  9:07 am by Donna Reply

    Great read David. And lovely dedication at the end.

    • October 3, 2015  9:54 am by David Walker Reply

      Thanks Donna - the dedication is much merited - Angie is a true blue and she's hurting so much at the moment. Let's hope a City win can raise a smile ;-)

  5. October 3, 2015  11:30 am by Richard Cooper Reply

    As you intimated it was after our mauling at Manu last season we bounced back on the unbeaten run - hopefully it will be repeated following the Spurs defeat and today is a good opportunity to "kick on" after that diappointment.
    I don't understand the self styled experts who have to over analyse and criticise every minute of a game. On wednesday it was an exciting game between 2 teams going out for a win. Isn't that what the "Beautiful Game" is supposed to be about ?
    A mention for the Borussia fans : On the shuttle bus going to and from the game and in the hotel bar after the game they were polite and friendly - hopefuilly they will be treated with the same respect in and around Manchester in the return game.
    I think Sergio has been suffering since that unpunished "horror" tackle at Palace. Hopefuuly today he is back at his best and helps get City back on top of the table

    • October 3, 2015  11:32 pm by David Walker Reply

      Great comments on our German hosts in midweek - they certainly gave their team every encouragement and English club's supporters, ourselves included, would do well to achieve their levels of intensity and passion. You're absolutely right about the pundits who look and sound increasingly stupid with every passing week. They're losing any credibility they may once have had, so long may it continue. As for Sergio - I am responding with the benefit of hindsight - he had a decent game today ;-)

  6. October 3, 2015  6:18 pm by Geoffrey blake Reply

    Hi David, thanks for some great reads! always look forward to seeing one of your epistles hit the airwaves!
    Well Magpies certainly mauled and mullered today if not quite murdered!

    • October 3, 2015  11:37 pm by David Walker Reply

      Epistles? :-) I certainly appreciate Jesus' work rate down City's right flank but steady on a minute ;-) Only joking - thanks fella. All this talk of poorly birds...mauled, mullered Magpies and, lest we forget a sick swan...always a most favoured scoreline...6-1.

  7. October 8, 2015  4:05 am by goonermichael Reply

    Your goal against Tottenham was offside. 2 of theirs were but they scored 2 more.Great result against Newcastle. Aguerro must be the best player in the league.

    • October 15, 2015  9:59 pm by David Walker Reply

      That may well be true but the intangible is the way momentum swings games and how team's react to certain situations. With respect it's overly simplistic to say Spurs would have won 2-0. That said, City were so abysmal in the 2nd half I wouldn't actually challenge the outcome - as was initimated in the article. Aguero is the best striker in the Premier League no doubt about that. If you ask City fans, I think most would say David Silva is the best player in the Premier League.

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